2 x You Get what You Elect

Not a great day for members of Congress, as the New York Times has two stories on Congressmen behaving badly.  The first is a minor personal indiscretion, but follows an interesting pattern.

A recently elected Congressman from Louisiana, Vance McAllister, has already announced that he will not seek re-election, yet will finish out his current term of 6 years.  Representative McAllister is a mere 5 months into his stint in Washington DC.  So why the announcement?  McAllister was recently caught on video kissing a woman who was not his wife.  That is probably the reason for announcing he will not seek re-election.  But remaining in office until the end of his term?  The benefits of being a Congressman or Congresswoman who serve at least 5 years (less than one full term) are remarkable.  Full pension for life, pre-paid life insurance policies, funding for a personal staff of up to 18 employees at a cost to the taxpayer of up to $1.4 mio per annum while in office, etc.

The pattern of interest is that Representative McAllister ran for office on a campaign pledging to defend the Christian way of life.  His campaign was built around personal appearances with his wife and family by his side.  Yet less than 5 months in Washington and he seems to have found a mistress.  While I have no statistical information, there does seem to be a pattern with public figures who speak loudest about their religious views and use those statements to further their self-interests being the ones who seem to get caught in sexual indiscretions.  Full NYT story here.

Next up, and more concerning to the general public is Representative Grimm from New York’s Staten Island district.  A former Marine and FBI agent, Grimm opened a health food restaurant after retiring from the FBI in 2006.  (Strange career path).  The FBI and US Justice Department now alleges that Grimm under-reported revenues and wages paid from his restaurant, essentially committing tax fraud.  What is remarkable is the the Justice Department has been looking into campaign finance violations and potential Mob connections for two years, yet in the end they have him (currently) on tax evasion.  Grimm made bail and vows to remain the course in Congress and fight the charges.  Full NYT story here.

Those of us in America are fortunate that we live in a society that we can pick, choose, and change our representatives in government.  But remember, You Get What You Elect.

Is there something about Elizabeth Warren that I appreciate?

Maybe.  we shall see.

Ms Warren is a recently elected Senator from Massachusetts and when campaigning a member of and warrior for the middle class.  that she advocates for the middle class is not in doubt, but her tax returns show her as far from middle class.  Nonetheless she won a special election here in Massachusetts just over a year ago and is now a Senator.

Like many Senators she has written a book and is on tour to promote it.  I could care less about the book; but as part of her tour she recently spoke to Gretchen Morganston of the New York Times.  A quote from Ms Warren caught my attention.  It seems like a great opening for real change in Washington DC (which is sorely needed).

Ms warren, speaking about being a part of the Senate Banking committee stated, “I keep reminding them that they don’t work for the companies they regulate, they work for the American people,” she said in the interview. “Every agency is set up so that the regulators hear over and over from the industry and their lawyers and lobbyists. That means the message is the same over and over — regulate less, do less, create an exception. In building the consumer agency, it was so powerfully important to me to try to set it up structurally so that the people in the agency would hear from real families, from customers of banks. That the wind would blow sometimes from the other direction.”

So how about bringing in everyday people to sit in front of Senate committees?  I want the Washington DC insiders to see and hear from real Americans, I am willing to bet that most Americans feel the same way.  But as it presently stands, Senate committees are generally populated by Washington DC insiders.  Rarely does a Senate committee hear from non-Federal employees.  I think it would help Americans start to take back control of federal politics if there were more regular Joe people with a chance to speak in from of Congress and the Senate.  And maybe, just maybe, we could effect real change in Washington DC.

It would be great to see Ms Warren follow through on her comments.  But even if she does not, the American people can.  It take s time and lots of change but remember, You Get What You Elect.

 

The 4 Types of Sales Personalities – bothsid.es

Another great post by Mark Suster on his Both sides of The Table blog.  (www.bothsid.es)  The link below is to an older article but relevant to where I am at these days.  One of the great features of Mark’s blog is his ability to link current posts to his older pieces.  Part of that is his catalog of material, and part of that is really well thought out writing.  I am working on both aspects myself.  Enjoy Mark’s post:

http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2010/04/08/journeymen-mavericks-superstars-understanding-salespeople-at-startups/

 

 

Insperity Has Been Reading Chet Holmes’ “Ultimate Sales Machine”

Chet Holmes’ (RIP) excellent book, “The Ultimate Sales Machine” is a must read for anyone involved in selling.  Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, CEO, Sales Manager or Sales Person, Chet’s book will add value to your business life.  I highly recommend it.

What caught my attention recently was a radio ad I heard for Insperity, the Houston-based outsourced HR & Workforce Optimization company (www.insperity.com).  Insperity is taking the “The Seven Musts of Marketing” chapter right out of Ultimate Sales Machine, and I wanted to highlight it.

Rule1: It must be distinctive.  Insperity hired Jim Nance, a famous sports announcer to do the voice-over for the advertising campaign.  Anyone who has listened to television or radio sports in the last 20 years in America instantly recognizes the voice.  As a recognizable voice, it get’s peoples attention immediately.

Rule 2: Capture Attention with A Screaming Headline.  Here is where Insperity excels.  The commercials create an immediate focus for business owners by noting the challenges associated with the new healthcare laws.  Business owner takes notice, and many individuals will do so as well.  The audio does not need to “scream”, but the topic sentence has to scream a topic of importance.

Rule 3: After your Headline Hooks Them, Your Body copy Has To Keep Them Reading.  Insperity does this by asking questions like, “Did you know that your business can be…..”.  The focus of each question is to force a prospective to think about the negative consequences of not engaging Insperity.

Rule 4: Include a Call To Action.  Insperity ends their commercials by stating that the solution to any of the myriad of problems they have just listed can easily be found by calling one of Insperity’s Business Solutions Specialists (not “our hotline”, or “our Sales Team”), for an “Executive Briefing” (not for a “sales pitch”)

It is great to see a live (and large) example of Chet’s guidance being used successfully.  Insperity had $1.6 Billion in revenues in 2007, and is on target to hit $2.6 Billion in 2014.  Chet Holmes has passed away but his guidance continues on.

Terror Lost Again – re-Post

I wrote this piece a few days after last year’s Boston Marathon bombings.  It has been a year.  The NYT has a piece about the remaining suspect (Suspect #1) on their front page today.  Suspect #2 was killed during the manhunt last year and has been nicknamed, “Speedbump” by the local media as his death was caused by his brother (suspect #1) running him over.

 

It felt good to read my post again this morning.  Maybe it will feel good to you as well.

 

Terror works when the Good change their life in a negative way because of the Evil.  The events of the Boston Marathon are in hyper-focus in today’s 24/7 news cycle.  It does not matter if this event turns out to be a “one of” event executed by a society misfit, or part of a global insurrection planned by a group with a larger message to the planet.  Taking a translation from Latin, “Terror” means “great fear” which the Boston Marathon incident has caused.

But Terror only wins when it effects people negatively.  For me, this Terror incident makes me feel more love; for my family, for those who have been killed and seriously wounded, for those families directly effected by the blasts.  It makes me sad for the loners who do not comfortably fit into modern society’s norms and who are outcast.  It makes me want to do more for others.

It re-enforces a core belief of mine that in the end, we are all judged by our Creator (pick the God of your choosing) by some simple questions; Were we good to others?  Did we benefit society?  Or were we a purposeful drain on society?  Those who wage Terror, for whatever justification they choose, do not pass these simple questions.

There is horrible Terror that happens everyday in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa.  Thankfully Terror happens rarely where I live in the US.   Sure the Evil will have their days and the Good will temporarily have to change their lives to accommodate the Evil and their actions.  But Evil and Terror can never win in the long run.  Where one or a group of Evil create Terror, many more Good come to assist those effected by Terror and work to resolve issues.  If Terror were truly effective, many Good would be turned into Evil.  But that’s not the case.  Mankind is innately Good.

Terror loses again.

“Love is love’s reward” – John Dryden

You Get What You Elect

Continuing a series of posts about the people that we as Americans choose to make and enforce the rules of the society in which we live.

Is it a surprise that the two doctors who have most efficiently gamed the Medicare system for tens of millions of dollars in questionable, but technically legal charges are also massive campaign donors to the federal legislators who oversee Medicare?  The New York times exposes the connections between the doctors and the politicians.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/business/doctor-with-big-medicare-billings-is-no-stranger-to-scrutiny.html?ref=business

3 Must Have Features for Technology Products or Services

Rather than list distinct features (since I do not know what they could be), I will use Oleg Chudnovsky’s words because he nailed it succinctly:

“The most powerfully growing products,” he says, “do three things at once: they make you look smart to the people you invite. They give real value to you when the people you invite join. And they give real value to the people you’ve invited once they sign up.”

G-Mail, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook,  Uber, etc

Business Culture

I am fortunate that I get to work with clients all over the globe.  oneZero’s client list encompasses Japan, China, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, UAE, Israel, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, UK, and the US.  Brokers, prime brokers, money managers and banks now use our software and services.

In the last 24 hours I experienced an incredibly frustrating business culture and a wonderfully efficient and engaged culture.  At 6am yesterday I had a pre-planned WebEx with an existing client.  The client was in the midst of significant change to their business operations and personnel.  The requests they were making came from emotion and not rational thought.  Bringing in well-spoken but not well-vetted “consultants” to take over major aspects of the business.  The business owner who has never been a part of day-to-day operations had already fired a few key personnel.

The initial request came to just introduce myself to their new personnel.  The first 30 minutes of the call were spent with them fumbling to start the WebEx that they had scheduled and were hosting.  As they fumbled I learned what they were expecting was a full review of our software and the trading platforms that we were linked to.  The owner of the company was attempting to call in via his mobile while driving with his wife and kids in the car.  I heard lots of yelling amongst their side of the call. I do not speak Hebrew, but I could tell they were blaming each other for the failure to start the WebEx.

After 30 minutes of nonsense I hung up and shot an angry e-mail to the business owner.  Be professional, get the WebEx lit up before I call in, if its important to him block off time for the call, don’t fire key employees without knowledge transfer, give me a correct agenda prior to the call.  It would have been comical if not for the time of day (6am) and the fact that I fear this client will go under shortly due to their horrible, emotional, knee-jerk decisions.

Then there was last night.  What should have been a terribly challenging software install went very smoothly.  We were installing software onto the servers of a Japanese prospect for him to Demo.  directories and windows operating platform in Japanese, a translator involved, it started at 10pm, etc.  And instead of a problem, the entire install went super smooth.  Why?  Business culture.

The Japanese were well prepared.  Had taken the steps we requested prior to the install and executed flawlessly.  Had given us a clear list of IP addresses, Usernames and passwords created specifically for us to use.  They had read the User guides and were able to follow along with each step of the installation.  Asked succinct questions.  This company would refer to their internal wiki to answer questions and were updating their wiki as the install went along.

These two interactions were a great example of the 6P’s.  Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  In this instance the Japanese business culture was so impressively on display, and the Israeli stereotype was so blatantly re-enforced that I was ready to put on a currency trade.  Long JPY / Short ILS

Personal Takeaway from Mark Suster’s Bothsid.es today

2. Sales people will often blame your pricing
They lost the deal because your competitors dropped price. Customers seldom buy on price. They buy on perceived value. Sure, you need to be competitive on price. But a sales person needs to be able to demonstrate the business case of why using your product will deliver more total ROI than your competitors. Otherwise you need not keep building out great features – just always drop your price! Of course that’s not true.

If your team (and you) see a competitor massively undercut you on price you sure better be able to sell to your customer that the temporary offset in a cheaper price will be eroded by the much great benefit of working with you.

“Sure, they can sell at 50% of our price. Their customer support is much smaller and therefore won’t be able to respond to your needs as quickly. We have 12 developers and they have 3. That matters because over the next 12 months our product will continue to pull further away from them. That’s why we raised $5 million from top-tier VCs.

 

Please call our references. We worked with customer X who saved 38% of their costs in the first year and increased sales by 14%. The pay-back period on our product was 16 months. We have lots of cases of demonstrable business success.

 

If we just dropped prices to match our less funded competitors we wouldn’t be able to keep innovating and adding value for our clients. If short-term price is your primary drive then our competitor might actually might be a better fit for you. We’re definitely a premium product, which is why we don’t just drop prices to match their moves to “buy” business.

Self Coaching

From a blog post by Coach Cheryl at CrossFit New England:

Are you a good coach?

If there is one person we each have the pleasure of spending time with each and every day it is our own self. We wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and have already begun to “coach” ourselves through the day. What message are you sending to yourself? Are you giving yourself positive feedback, using good cues, and reinforcing good behavior? Do you find yourself focusing on all the negative things that are going on?

………..

So here is my challenge to all of you. This is not going to come easy, as it is a skill just like any other that needs practice. Next time you get ready to attack a barbell, hit a W.O.D., or go for that muscle up; practice being a coach to yourself. Before you act, tell yourself what you would tell another athlete. Be the best coach to yourself that you can be. Over time, I promise it will make you a better athlete in the gym. More so, the more you practice it in the gym, the more it will change the way you approach experiences in life.

..3, 2, 1, Go!